ThinkAnalytics makes ad tech foray, inspired by Sky AdSmart?

The unveiling of an addressable advertising arm by recommendation engine expert ThinkAnalytics appears to be driven by the movements of one particular tier 1 customer – which could result in some unusual overlap.

That customer is Sky and the technology is called AdSmart, only last month bearing its first fruits after five years of field trials. Could ThinkAnalytics have picked up a trick or two from Sky’s revered AdSmart system over the years through the installation of its content recommendation software at the European powerhouse?

It’s possible, although ThinkAnalytics is well-known for its in-house innovation. Of course, with the UK vendor serving some 250 million subscribers in 43 languages today, some might say ThinkAnalytics could make its advertising debut without assistance and we would be inclined to agree.

Called ThinkAdvertising, naturally, the new addressable advertising system should be a force to be reckoned with considering it is backed by ThinkAnalytics’ personalization and segmentation models. It claims greater granularity over rival systems which only focus on household-level data, whereas ThinkAdvertising allows operators to pull a variety of individual-level attributes for advertisers to select from – ultimately meaning more highly targeted dynamic ad insertion capabilities for broadcast and streamed TV.

So, how does ThinkAdvertising liken to Sky AdSmart? Admittedly, any immediate comparisons are unfair, seeing as the latter technology uses technology from two tier 1 operators – combining Liberty Global’s ad tech system with Sky’s own. Indeed, AdSmart is one of the most advanced addressable advertising systems on the market (and apparently most expensive, too) with a flexible approach allowing integration with third party APIs. Comcast began adopting AdSmart in the US earlier this year, at a time when initial commercial deployments of addressable advertising within broadcast have been confined to vertical systems defined by pay TV operators like Sky.

Recently, Sky added two “groundbreaking” new technologies to the system – facial decoding and emotion analytics. Neither terms have been tied to Sky AdSmart prior to about three weeks ago, and unfortunately Sky never responded to our queries to discuss these now frontiers of addressability with us.

What Sky did say is that facial decoding triggered a 22% higher emotional response in AdSmart audiences when viewing TV ads compared to linear audiences. Reportedly, creating emotion in turn creates memories, which is crucial for advertisers as this drives recognition and ultimately translates into positive return on investment. It worked with emotional measurement company Affectiva for this effort.

The launch of ThinkAdvertising in fact marks two firsts – not just the vendor’s entry into ad tech but the first time ThinkAnalytics has offered its AI and machine learning-driven content discovery platform together with demographic data.

As such, ThinkAdvertising allows pay TV operators and pure play OTT services to combine their in-house customer and demographic data with the data-driven learnings from ThinkAnalytics’ own systems. “As well as knowing that someone is a keen baseball and football fan, the system learns which teams, players and competitions they watch, and when they watch. This results in greater personalization and localization,” reads the example provided.


The system is available either as a plug-in to the flagship recommendation product, or available as a standalone product – offering easy integration with other analytics platforms or ad decision services such as Castoola (not a company we’re familiar with).

“Research has shown that highly targeted advertising campaigns can considerably improve impact and effectiveness. These improvements include a reduction in channel switching, increased enjoyment of TV advertising, increased ad engagement, higher resonance of brand messaging, greater recall and higher purchase intent,” said Peter Docherty, CTO, ThinkAnalytics. “ThinkAdvertising will make TV ad buying more effective and impactful by injecting a deeper level of consumer insight into the addressable TV ad ecosystem. It will let operators unearth individual-level profiles and attributes, opening up a gold mine of incremental revenue opportunities from not only existing brands but also a new generation of TV advertisers that want to reach specific audience segments without paying national TV ad rates.”

ThinkAdvertising will make its debut appearance at IBC next week, showing demonstrations with the aforementioned ad decision service from Castoola, where Faultline Online Reporter has earmarked some time at the ThinkBooth.